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Public Talks

SPACES Caravan Yerevan: PUBLIC TALKS

Participatory art and culture programme in Yerevan
October 8-12 2012

Contemporary society has to cope with all the bitter fruits of Modernism/modern condition: from heavy industrialization and ideological totality to claims for new types of social and physical environments, and failed system of both state-planned and free market economies. But what does it mean to be a modern society? What are the consequences of becoming such? Is this a reversible process? Where can we find ourselves at this certain point of history? And have we ever been “modern”?

The SPACES programme in Yerevan focussed on the question of modernity in a post-Soviet context. Contemporary society has to cope with all the bitter fruits of Modernism/modern condition: from heavy industrialization and ideological totality to claims for new types of social and physical environments, and failed system of both state-planned and free market economies. But what does it mean to be a modern society? What are the consequences of becoming such? Is this a reversible process?

The focus was laid on the structure and transformations of public sphere and its spaces of articulation throughout and after the Soviet period. From big squares to parks, kitchens to workspace couloirs the participants discovered the cases when the sphere and the space of the public coincided. The programme invited to review the experience and the processes of the past 20 years when the emptied space of the communist ideology was filled with rising nationalism and manipulated religiosity while the free market of unequal opportunities came to take the position of state-governed industrial economy. What changed and what remained the same? Is there a chance/ways to think about the public space of tomorrow that can incorporate both public and private interests?

“Public Talks” brought together artists, curators, researchers, architects and other cultural workers along with civil society groups and students.

It offered:
- Artistic interventions in public spaces engaging the public
- A flash mob connected to environmental protection (see pictures above)
- Talks and presentations by Armenian art and cultural critics taking place in context-specific public venues, amongst others in front of Mother Armenia
- Study visits to Armenian independent cultural institutions
- A cultural policy debate formatted as a panel discussion following up the events and happenings of the program.

Working group Yerevan

The partner founded a working group Yerevan consisting of 7 members: Anna Barseghian, Nora Galfayan, Taguhi Torosyan, Nvard Yerkanyan, Harutyun Alpetyan, Vahram Aghasyan, Mher Azatyan, who met once a week to discuss ideas which could be developed within the project in the long term.

In the first period, each artist/curator tried to formulate and present the topics, questions he or she would be interested to work with individually. Being very diverse in terms of chosen media or expression, the topics mainly focused on two principal ideas: Modernism and the Soviet (Modernism and its articulations in the public realms), Modernism and the post-Soviet. Through discussions the group developed questions and metathemes from the two main topics which later became the basis for the concept of this part of the project.

Decisions were made in most cases by reaching consensus after an active brainstorming process.

Specific Events within “Public Talks” carried out by Utopiana.am:
- “The Piano Tuner” installation by Anna Barseghian & Harutyun Alpetyan
- “A Monument To Martyred Trees” flash mob by activists of Save Teghut Forest movement initiated by Davit Stepanyan
- “Blank Zones In Collective Memory Or The Transformation Of Yerevan's Urban Space In The 60s”: presentation by Ruben Arevshatyan
- “Bringing Your Voice Out” Artistic Intervention in Public Space by Harutyun Apetyan
- “Tour To Kond District” by UrbanLab_yerevan
- “Literature And The Public Sphere” presentation by Vardan Jaloyan
- “In Between Public And The Public” film presentation by Media Lab students and Harutyun Alpetyan
- “Culture On Wheels” project presentation by Stefan Press
- “Post-Soviet Urban Spaces” presentation by Hrach Bayadyan
- “The Future Sustainable City: Architecture, Urbanism, Nature And Society: Architecture And Sociology In Dialogue” by Richard Levine & Heidi Dumreicher

View the full programme

See the pictures

Article "Blank Zones in Collective Memory or the Transformation of Yerevan`s Urban Space in the 60s" by Ruben Arevshatyan

The Programme Public Talks was organised by Utopiana.am